- Hugo Pacheca in Kiev & Kathryn Armstrong in London
- BBC News
The Ukrainian capital Kiev has also been targeted by Russian airstrikes, which one official described as “exceptional in intensity”.
Ukraine said all 18 missiles were shot down and air defenses said they destroyed targets over the city.
At least three people were injured during the barrage, which used both drones and missiles, officials said.
Russia has stepped up its air campaign in recent weeks ahead of the Ukrainian offensive.
The air raid alert was sounded at around 02:30 local time (23:30 GMT Monday) and lifted two hours later in the eighth attack to hit the capital this month.
An unusually high number of loud explosions were heard in the city center as officials told residents in online messages that air defenses had been activated.
Ukraine’s Armed Forces chief Valery Zalushny said Russia attacked Kiev from the north, south and east, using 18 air, sea and land-based missiles.
Serhiy Popko, head of the Ukrainian capital’s military administration, described the barrage as “the maximum number of offensive missiles in a short period of time”.
“According to preliminary information, most of the enemy targets in Gavin’s airspace have been detected and destroyed,” he added.
These include six Kinzel hypersonic missiles, which Russia has said in the past cannot be taken out by any of the world’s air defense systems, General Salushnyi said. The BBC could not independently verify the Ukrainian claim.
Hypersonic weapons are five times the speed of sound. They are difficult to defend because of their speed and ability to fly at low altitudes – beyond the line of sight of ground-based radars – and maneuver in mid-flight.
Ukraine said it shot down Kinsale for the first time last week during an earlier attack on Kyiv.
Residents were warned to stay away from windows as debris from intercepted missiles fell from the sky.
Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said rocket debris fell in central districts, including the city’s zoo. Neither the animals nor the workers were injured.
Solomyansky district, which includes the international airport, is said to be the worst affected.
Mr Babko said the fire at a non-residential site in the district has since been put out.
Kseniia, who lives in Kyiv, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that she and her husband were sleeping when they heard a “very loud series of explosions” above their building. He compared the intensity of the attack to a Star Wars movie or an action video game.
Thanks to the support of its international allies, Ukraine now has the ability to detect and destroy high-capacity missiles, he added.
“It is a great relief to know that Kyiv is now under such strong protection”.
Another resident, Yevhen Petrov, said Tuesday’s attack was the first time his home had been shaken by the force of an attack since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
Russia’s strikes on Kyiv resumed earlier this month after more than 50 days of calm. Ukrainian officials believe Moscow’s strategy is to destroy air defense systems that are highly successful at intercepting missiles and drones.
In the past few days, President Volodymyr Zelensky has been on a European tour in which he has been promised multibillion-dollar military equipment by Western allies, including UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, thousands of civilians and fighters have been killed or injured, towns and cities have been destroyed in the war, and nearly 8.2 million Ukrainians have been registered as refugees in Europe, 2.8 million of them in Russia.
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